The Dallas Examiner
Among American children, the obesity rate has more than tripled since the 1970s, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Approximately 1 in 5 children age 6 to 19 are obese – the highest rate being among Hispanics at approximately 23 percent, followed by African Americans at 20 percent and then Caucasians 15 percent.
In Dallas, 36 percent of the children and teens are classified as overweight or obese, according to research compiled by the U.S. Health and Human Resources Department.
In hopes of helping to alleviate this ongoing issue, the Dallas Area Coalition to Prevent Childhood Obesity and the Dallas Mayor’s Youth Fitness Initiative and Community Council teamed up to host the 10th annual Get Kidz Fit Festival on April 29 at Centennial Hall in Fair Park.
“The community council decided to do this 10 years ago because of the childhood obesity issue in Dallas. This was a way to inform families about resources that were in their own communities. As you may have noticed, we have about 50 different partners here. We have people from universities, we have healthcare representatives here, and we have parks and recs departments, so it really brings all of these entities together that address childhood obesity,” said Sonia White, managing director of Community Council.
The festival of fitness included a bounce house, buddy bumper balls, a meltdown inflatable ride, an ultimate module challenge and other fit stations. The main stage held various performances from local talented youth. A dance competition and a step performance were among the features designed to keep the crowd going. Various prizes were also given out.
As children and teens participated in fitness activities, parents had an opportunity to visit vendor booths with information on how to create a healthy lifestyle for their family and health care options available and were given bags of healthy groceries. Some booths in attendance were Texas Star, Molina Healthcare, American Heart Association, It’s Time Texas, Lifting up Children, Hype Kidz Nation and Fit and Faithful Living.
This year, the event had about 2,500 people in attendance, including children with their parents. White, who has been part of the team for three years, said the event has always seen a great turn out. The organizers prefer the location because of its size and the easy access to the bus and rail station.
Also, they try to add a new component to the event each year.
“This year, I would say one of my favorite things of the events, we did a food challenge in partnership with Texas AgriLife … teams of kids come in, it’s kinda like the Top Chef TV show where you get a mystery bag of food and you have to make a meal. It’s great seeing these young kids make these healthy dishes and then be judged by those dishes. So I thought that was a great addition this year,” White explained.
White hopes that all the information that the children and parents learn from the festival will resonate with them and that they will continue to make healthy choices to change their lifestyle.
“They can be physical fit by doing everyday activities,” White said. “They can walk their dog, they can ride their bike. They don’t have to necessarily go to a gym to be physically fit. Their snacks and their meals can be healthy. There’s all kinds of booths here that show how you can make healthy snacks and meals. So I hope they take back how they can do this every day at home.”